Almost ironically, the large SUV class is not all that large. Most buyers seem to have migrated to midsize SUVs due to fuel-economy concerns, especially now that several entries in that class offer three rows of seats.
One functional element that tends to separate midsize SUVs from large ones is towing capacity. There are no three-row midsize SUVs that offer a V8 engine, and few manage even a 5,000-lb towing capacity. By contrast, all large SUVs offer a V8 engine (save for the Ford Expedition, which has a satisfyingly powerful turbocharged V6), and maximum towing capacity starts at about 7,400 lbs and goes up to about 9,000 lbs—and some models come in heavy-duty versions that go even higher than that.
The Ford Expedition is redesigned, gaining lighter-weight aluminum-alloy body panels on a new high-strength steel frame, more horsepower (the standard engine gets a 10-hp bump to 375, and a new 400-hp version is standard on Platinum models), a 10-speed automatic transmission in place of a 6-speed, and new safety and technology features. The Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban add performance-oriented RST (Rally Sport Truck) models with special trim, 22-inch wheels, and available brake and exhaust-system upgrades; the Tahoe RST offers a Performance Package with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8, 10-speed automatic transmission, and GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system. The Nissan Armada gets upgraded infotainment features, as well as an available Intelligent Rear View Mirror that can be switched from a traditional rear view mirror to an LCD-monitor rear-camera view. The Toyota Sequoia lineup adds a TRD Sport model with special trim and a sport-tuned suspension, and all Sequoias get a minor styling refresh and a new instrument panel. The GMC Yukon/Yukon XL gets a tire-fill-alert feature.
Both the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon are offered in longer-length versions: the Chevrolet Suburban and similar GMC Yukon XL, which add 14 inches in wheelbase and 20 inches in overall length. The Ford Expedition also offers extended-wheelbase models, called Expedition MAX, that are about 12 inches longer overall.
Most entries in this class seat up to eight passengers, but the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and similar GMC Yukon and Yukon XL seat up to nine. At the other end of the scale, the Dodge Durango seats up to seven. The Chevrolet Tahoe Premier and Suburban Premier, Ford Expedition Platinum, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL Denali, Nissan Armada Platinum, and Toyota Sequoia Platinum are all high-end offerings that rival some premium large SUVs for style. Also for price, as they start at about $73,000 for the Expedition Platinum, around $63,000 for the GMs, $60,000 for the Nissan Armada Platinum, and $65,000 for the Sequoia Platinum—and go up from there. Almost by definition, these large SUVs get rather dismal fuel economy and can be a handful in around-town driving. That can end up being quite a price to pay for the added space and towing capacity. We feel our Best Buy pick strikes a good balance between giving buyers what they need in a large SUV while still being livable on an everyday basis.